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Dear Colleague Letter: Supplemental Opportunity for SBIR/STTR Mentoring


Date: October 9, 2008
To: NSF Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer
(SBIR/STTR) Grantees
From: Kesh Narayanan, Division Director
  Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)
Re: Supplemental Opportunity for SBIR/STTR Mentoring

Dear Colleagues:

We invite supplemental requests for Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) grantees to mentor other small businesses that have never submitted a proposal to NSF, including those from underrepresented groups 1 within their communities.  The supplements are intended to broaden participation and to increase the diversity of small businesses within the NSF SBIR/STTR program. The supplements will enable small businesses to be mentored by existing NSF SBIR/STTR grantees by leveraging the NSF SBIR/STTR program knowledge with non-NSF SBIR/STTR companies. The mentors will guide the mentored small businesses through the proposal life cycle process, which covers the development, submission and potential award of a proposal.

Supplement Submission Window:  Proposals may be submitted for consideration to this opportunity from October 1 through May 31 annually.

Mentor Eligibility:  Only companies with current NSF SBIR/STTR Phase II and/or Phase IIB awards are eligible to apply for this opportunity.

Mentored Eligibility: Small businesses, including those from underrepresented groups, who have never submitted a proposal to NSF are eligible to participate in this mentoring opportunity.

Estimated Number of Awards:  Approximately 25 supplements to existing awards will be made.

Limit on the number of supplements:  Except as noted below, only one mentoring opportunity per company. The mentoring arrangement is a 2-year commitment. An additional supplemental funding request may be submitted if a mentored small business receives a Phase I award.

Anticipated Funding Amount:  Annual supplemental funding of $20,000 per year for up to two years is anticipated.  This supplement enables NSF SBIR/STTR grantee firms to mentor one small business through the development and submission of a Phase I proposal.  If successful the mentored will receive a Phase I award; the mentoring relationship will continue through the completion of a Phase I award and the preparation of a Phase II proposal.  It is expected that a successfully mentored company receiving Phase I and Phase II awards will, in turn, reach out to other small businesses in the community to provide mentoring assistance.

An additional supplemental funding opportunity in the amount of $10,000 will be available if a mentor is successful in shepherding an underrepresented business to a Phase I award, in order to help the mentored small business in preparation of the Phase II proposal.

Description of the Supplement Opportunity

The Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program stimulates entrepreneurship in this country through government support for research by small business.  These small firms often need assistance in understanding the Federal requirements of bringing innovative concepts to the market place.  As stated in the NSF FY 2006-2011 Strategic Plan, Investing in America’s Future, one of NSF’s core values is to be “broadly inclusive: seeking and accommodating contributions from all sources while reaching out especially to groups that have been underrepresented…”.  This supplemental opportunity highly encourages existing NSF SBIR/STTR grantees to reach out into their communities to small businesses including those considered underrepresented businesses that are not currently participating in the NSF SBIR/STTR program in order to mentor these businesses through the proposal life cycle (development, submission, and award). The goal is to broaden participation from small businesses that have not participated in the NSF SBIR/STTR program including underrepresented businesses.

Supplement Preparation Instructions

Supplemental funding requests must be submitted through FastLane as a supplement to an existing NSF SBIR/STTR Phase II or Phase IIB award.  The supplemental funding request must contain the following: 

  1. A description of the mentoring relationship.
  2. A schedule of the activities.
  3. An agreement letter describing the relationship and signed by both parties.


Supplemental funding requests that do not thoroughly describe the activities of the mentor/mentored relationship will be asked to be withdrawn or will be returned without review.  Call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or email for user support concerning supplement submissions.  The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system.  When contacting FastLane, inform the technician that you are required to apply for this opportunity as a supplement to an existing award.

Additional Information Required in Reports

SBIR/STTR mentoring grantees are required to provide information on the mentoring activities each during the required reporting periods as part of the regular interim report.


Proposals will be reviewed internally by NSF program staff.

For More Information

Please contact one of the following program officials if you have questions about the SBIR/STTR Mentoring Supplement.

Cheryl Albus, SBIR/STTR Program Director, telephone (703) 292-7051, email

Juan Figueroa, SBIR/STTR Program Director, telephone (703) 292-7054, email

1 The Small Business Administration defines underrepresented groups as Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Small Businesses and Woman-Owned Businesses (